Rodney Walks Through...

“Stars in the House”

23 February 2022
[ Remember WENN on Stars in the House ] Written by Participants.
Directed by Participants.


After the Remember WENN cast reunion hosted by Stars in the House on YouTube, there was much I wanted to respond to.

One day later, the thought crossed my mind. I'll write up a "Walk Through." After an episode of Remember WENN aired, the fan discussion would usually solidify around 3 or 4 points in the episode...a plot development, another memorable Rupert-written line, a character reveal. But there was so much more in each episode that I felt should be appreciated that was being overlooked. With the original Walk Throughs, I set out to put this situation right. There was no way I could cover it all, but I could cover some. So the Walk Throughs essentially jumped disjointedly around the episode with my reactions.

But this time it would be coherent. Each aspect of the show would be covered to some extent; nothing would be ignored. It would be well balanced. It would be professional. Maybe I could do it as a clever, loving roast of the attendees' comments. Nah. Maybe an informative approach, detailing each person's career. Maybe... I tried to dismiss it. Not only would this need a large block of time, but I was probably exceeding the grasp of my talents.

One day later, I still couldn't get it out of my head. I felt a compulsion that I hadn't felt since my original Walk Through posts to Usenet.

Occasionally, I look back at things I've accomplished, like my weekly WENN Walk Through posts, or some of the transformative work I did with WENN audio, and I'm astounded at what I accomplished. For the posts, I spent hours and hours pausing, rewinding, and rewatching scenes to ensure I got the quotes and the situation correct. Next, I tried to write with some amount of clarity. For the audios, I sometimes spent hours and hours modifying wave forms in an attempt to remove dialog so the underlying music can be heard.

Usually, these manic projects of mine had to stop when other aspects of my life that I'd been irresponsibly ignoring could simply be ignored no longer. Or else I'd worked until I was overwhelmed and my body paid the price. But this would be a one-and-done project.

I decided to stick to my original style. I would just go through the presentation and when I particularly reacted to something, I would write it down. This means it would be mostly unstructured with a lot of my digressions. In high school English class, we had a free association exercise. My paper had many more entries than any of the other students. I see connections all the time. So I tend to have digressions within digressions within digressions. A series of rabbit holes. So...

If you want all the digressions removed for easier reading, click here.

If you want all the digressions restored for a thorough reading, click here.

⟪⟪ 00:00 ⟫⟫

Intro 2

Shortly after shutdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley created the Stars in the House series which is broadcast on the YouTube platform. The show has often featured cast reunions such as this episode's Remember WENN reunion.

Instead of the usual Super Chat donations sent to hosts of a YouTube stream, donations are accepted for The Actors Fund. For all the working actors you see in TV, film, and stage, there are far many more unemployed. As pandemic shutdowns caused loss of work for many across the globe, so had it increased unemployment in the entertainment sector. The Actors Fund provides assistance.

Each Stars in the House stream begins with a voice of WENN. Carolee Carmello sings the short theme tune.

The hosts explained that Rupert Holmes' associate, Teressa Jennings, contacted them with the idea of the reunion and did all the behind-the-scenes work to virtually gather the cast.

Since we want to get to our reunion, I'll sum up the moral of the rest of the opening segment as, "If you break a glass object, please ensure you clean up all the shards." I recommend a vacuum cleaner.

⟪⟪ 08:27 ⟫⟫

Enter Rupert

Rupert Holmes was brought into the chat. Behind him are a very nice series of wooden bookcases holding many books and several mementos.

On a later viewing, I saw, tucked between two Tony Awards which were tucked between two Edgar Awards, a small old-style radio with a plaque in front of it.

I used to look at the WENN sign which, after the first few episodes, hung above Gertie the receptionist's desk, at the station entrance, and thought how cool it would look in my house. I ignored for the moment that not only was the sign damaged on the bottom at some point, but I'd have no place to hang it (not even now after moving up from the 1600 sq. foot apartment I lived in at the time).

However, a WENNer named Erich Linder, also a fan of the sign design, contacted an artisan named Jo Hunter and convinced her to create a more three-dimensional version in miniature. And then Jo Hunter made it available via her Etsy site.

And so, the Remember WENN 6" wooden wall plaque and Remember WENN 9" wooden wall plaque were born. Now I have the WENN sign in my house.

The hosts ran through a couple of clips showcasing the variety of Rupert's skills. First, a clip of Barbra Streisand singing Rupert's "Queen Bee" from the 1976 film, A Star Is Born. Next up was Rupert performing a version of his song, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)," with spoken verse, from an episode of Solid Gold. Rupert explained that "Escape" generated enough income to buy a house (where he composed his playful adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood).

If they went on demonstrating all of Rupert's diverse skills (composer, lyricist, arranger, conductor, playwright, screenwriter, mystery writer, chief bottle washer), that would take up the whole broadcast.

So they turned to the topic of Remberber WENN and its origins.

A large part of American Movie Classics' (AMC's) all-movie programming came from Ted Turner's Turner Entertainment, holder of 2200 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films made prior to 1986. In 1994, Turner launched a new cable channel, Turner Classic Movies, which would show the films from Turner Entertainment's catalog (later adding films from other studios).

This removed a huge chunk of available films from AMC's scheduling.

Thus, AMC decided they should begin creating some content of their own to fill the void. And it would make sense that this content would blend with their current content of movies, mostly from the 1930s to the 1950s. AMC met with Howard Meltzer, a producer most known at the time for TV movies and several of the TV specials aimed at the young (Afterschool Specials, Weekend Specials, Schoolbreak Specials). Among the ideas discussed for this new content was something with an old-time radio theme.

Aware of Rupert Holmes' interest in the Golden Age of Radio, Howard contacted Rupert, who readily accepted the challenge. Within three days, Rupert had worked out the characters.

After writing Remember WENN's brilliant first episode, Rupert began writing the second episode and had a crisis of confidence. "I don't know that I have a second episode in me!" But he followed one typebar after another* and ended up writing nearly all of the series. (*Okay, he was likely using a computer but I'm trying to learn this human thing called "artistic license.")

His reward for that punishing workload? "For my reward, for doing that, I got to write all the music: the underscore and all the jingles and the songs that they sang (we had a great singing cast). It was the best job of my life."

Rupert explained how he was able to generate so many scripts, often on short notice. He knew the characters well and he knew the cast and their capabilities as well. "I sometimes felt like a stenographer. I would just create a situation and I'd sit there and say, 'Well, Betty will say this. Scott will say that.' And I would type and laugh in surprise at the things that Hilary would come up with. I'd go, 'doodley-do [writing] Ha, ha. And she's great.' doodley-do."

During Rupert's Remember WENN origin story, he stated that an episode was typically 28 minutes long. And this is true. However, at this point, one of the hosts then brought up a challenge to Rupert from Kevin O'Rourke. Kevin claimed that Rupert wrote episodes at least 35 minutes long and the cast had to say the lines really fast to bring the episode in at 28 minutes.

With the subject of the cast brought up, it was time to pull them into the stream.

⟪⟪ 17:11 ⟫⟫

Enter the Cast

Amanda Naughton: "Betty Roberts"

Rupert greeted her, as we all did, with, "Hi, babe."

Melinda Mullins: "Hilary Booth"

Melinda arrived with a cheery, "Hey! Hey! How are you?"

John Bedford Lloyd: "Victor Comstock"

Rupert's salutation is, "Hi, JBL." Apparently, in conversation with him, he is sometimes called by his initials. John, in his powerful voice, remarks, "It is wonderful to see you guys."

Kevin O'Rourke: "Scott Sherwood"

"Hello, everyone. Rupert, great to see you." There's a reason Kevin singled out Rupert, which was soon revealed.

Chris Murney: "Mackie Bloom"

Chris was quick to point out that all the cast members onscreen were wearing glasses. Same thing here. I was glasses-free when the show aired; now I keep eyeglasses everywhere. Excellent timing for the remark. The remaining cast members were eyeglasses-free (although Carolee slipped on a pair from time to time).

Tom Beckett: "Mr. Foley"

James (host) did a marvelous transition here. "Next we go from the man of a thousand voices to the man with no voice." Tom requested permission from Rupert to talk. During this segment, JBL waved his right hand at the camera in a couple of styles. I thought he might have been testing out a delay on his connection. Or responding to something in the private chat. Melinda had a black and white cat playing on equipment in the background which I've highlighted with a brightened oval.

Mary Stout: "Eugenia Bremer"

Mary mimicked playing the organ.

Carolee Carmello: "Maple LaMarsh"

"Look at all these gorgeous faces!" In response, Rupert commented, "The makeup job has been fantastic."

[ The usual gang ] The usual gang.

⟪⟪ 21:06 ⟫⟫

S U R P R I S E !

James (host) commented that the stream was happening for another reason beyond the Remember WENN reunion.

Seth (the other host): "Yeah, my birthday's February 28th. Ah, Rupert, when is your birthday?"

Rupert had been sitting back, impassively, smiling. Enjoying the reunion? Or anticipating? Very inscrutable, our Mr. Holmes. Only a hint of a surprise, almost imperceptible, registers before he replies "Um, well, uh, where Melinda is [France], it's right now. It's, uh, tomorrow."

What were Rupert and the cast doing during this announcement of "another reason"?

So the acting award goes to Tom Beckett. Rupert could have looked at any other member of the cast and caught a tell. (Although, based on information gleaned from later in the stream, Rupert might have taken their furtive glances as peeks at the private chat.)

James replied to Rupert, "That's a good enough reason." and the screen was filled with a banner of Rupert pictures and an animated jumping birthday present box backed by the words, "Happy Birthday."

The stream cut back to the hosts and guests and Rupert was clapping his hands and laughing, enjoying the planned surprise by the hosts as he heard the cast members call out, "Happy Birthday."

Then he leaned in to look more carefully at the screen. He'd noticed a lot of activity in all the attendees' windows. "Oh, look at this."

By this time Rupert, even if he had suspected something, had realized how extensive the collaboration between his fellow streamers had been. (Though probably not that some viewers in the audience knew as well.)

The hosts explained that Teressa had said they needed to do something special for Rupert's birthday. They asked her, "What would be the most special reunion?" She replied, "Remember WENN."

Rupert reacted to the surprise party backstory, "Absolutely! Absolutely! This would be my dream of who I'd be gathering with."

⟪⟪ 23:03 ⟫⟫

Crossing Each Other's Paths, WENN in the Streamwaves, Those Departed

Rupert then discussed work since WENN with various cast members.


Among that work mentioned was Thumbs, a Rupert Holmes play starring Kathie Lee Gifford which premiered in Nyack, New York, at Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center, in early 2002. According to Rupert's Wikipedia entry, it's "the most successful play in the history of the Helen Hayes Theatre Company."


No source is cited, but "Ssilvers" added the information in a 13 Sep 2006 edit at 21:34. Ssilvers is self-described as a lawyer and writer with a strong interest in musical theater.

During its run, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing it with Linda and James Young. The play was very entertaining. I was impressed with a giant motorized shower prop; I thought plays took place on static sets.

Tom Beckett was also in the production. I see from the booklet that he was soon to appear in the French/Spanish/Canadian production of Au plus près du paradis, aka Nearest to Heaven. The film stars Catherine Deneuve (Belle de Jour, The Hunger) and William Hurt (The Big Chill, Altered States). That sounds like an interesting combination. It was not released to the cinema in the U.S., but is available on DVD (but it appears not to be on a streaming platform).

After the play, we joined up with Rupert Holmes and his assistant Teressa Esposito (now Jennings) for dinner and my only meeting with the man himself.

As we were leaving the Helen Hayes Theater, Rupert arranged for a brief audience with Tom Beckett who was friendly and charming during the few minutes we all spent together. I was carrying a camera and should have asked, "Hey, how about a pic?" But, I'm rather diffident. Can you imagine that in today's selfie world?

Later, after relaxing at the restaurant, we took pictures. I apologize for the quality. I've long since lost the digital original but had luckily printed out a copy for some reason. Unluckily, my printer wasn't performing at its best and it's a bit streaky.

You can read more details in Linda's blog.

Rupert's mention of the thriller he and Tom did with Kathie Lee Gifford provided a segue to the first of many video tributes to Rupert. This tribute was from Kathie Lee.

Afterward, realizing there are still more birthday surprises on the way, Rupert declared, "This has been some scam. This is a Scott Sherwood scam, I think." Okay, maybe he had been surprised.

A clip from "On the Air" of Jeff (Hugh O'Gorman) Singer introducing Betty (Amanda Naughton) Roberts to Hilary (Melinda Mullins) Booth was shown. Then Melinda was asked how fun it was playing the role. "Best fun of my life. Best project I ever did and I loved it to bits."

This was used as a transition to the next video tribute. This one was from the actor who played Hilary's sometime hubby, Jeff: Hugh O'Gorman. Just to save time here, I have to say all the video tributes were touching and well done.

James (host) commented that it was amazing that Remember WENN is so easy to access now on AMC+. I don't know if he appreciates how amazing it is as AMC would not license it for home video or work with interested broadcasters such as local PBS stations. Only last year did it become irregularly available in problematic versions (badly done commercial breaks, speed-ups). Only now (February 2022), on AMC+, has it become available in a form matching the original broadcast (though it still suffers from sped-up credits and truncated music).

I thought by now all the cast knew. But Melinda and Tom seemed a little surprised at the news of WENN's availability on a streaming platform. JBL didn't look surprised, just attentive; however, he uttered "No s***" with just a hint of wonder.

Rupert had kind words for AMC here. "It looks really good. The grain holds up. They've done some kind of upgrade/upscale on the resolution. And it's never looked like this before, even in its first run. And by the way, they have closed captioning and unlike any other closed captioning that I've seen on TV they get my dialog right. When you watch Britbox, they mangle every British phrase you can think of [with closed captioning done by] someone in Queens who's never heard of anything British before. And they get that right. It's just gorgeous to look at."


Well, yes and no and maybe a little.

Yes, this will likely be the best video quality that most viewers have seen. And woo-hoo on the proper closed captioning! Sometimes I watch programs with the captioning on just to see the low vocabulary of captioneers.

No to upscaling the resolution being especially helpful. If you had an image 100 pixels by 100 pixels (for a total of 10,000 pixels) and upscaled (resized) it so that it was 200 pixels by 200 pixels (for a total of 40,000 pixels), you would not have 4 times the detail. The upscale cannot know details not in the original image. Now it's just twice as large but with no more detail.

Mind you, modern electronic upscale processing uses sophisticated algorithms to make a best guess about what the newly created pixels should contain and sharpening algorithms that can fool you into thinking there is more detail. But it's just a best guess; it's inventing detail that was not provided in the original image. In the example above, 30,000 of the 40,000 pixels in the upscaled image are now invented. It's going to get things wrong.


I encountered a real-life example of this during WENN's heyday. During "Mr. and Mrs. Singer," Hilary is seen reading a letter from Jeff explaining his new wife Pavla.

Hilary reads aloud, "Life is too short. I have to find out who I really am. Pavla is like no woman I've ever..." Hilary trails off, but then resumes from a point later in the letter, "I only pray we can remain caring, loving friends."

We see the back of the letter as Hilary reads it. But the letter was paper-thin, and the light behind it allows a hazy view of the writing.

Of course, I screen-grabbed it and loaded it into an image editor. I flipped the image to de-reverse the text. Then I began bringing to bear various filters (algorithms) in an attempt to clarify it. However, I was not surprised that increasing the intensity of the filters began radically altering the image. Now, with the pixels altered so much by an attempt to make it "clearer", it was distorted. Suddenly I made out a phrase that hadn't seemed to be there before. And that was because it wasn't there in the original. I looked back to the unprocessed original and I could see this phrase had been invented by my brain's attempt to make sense of the distorted pixels. Another WENNer (JW?) had done the exact same thing.

So, upscaling may do as much harm as good to an image.

The discussion about the physical letter's contents remained in the newsgroup and chat group. (For story purposes, it was the words Hilary said out loud that mattered.)

Seeing that I never added my evaluation on the web site, I'll now add it here. I missed it because I was looking through my Walk Throughs. It turns out that, instead, I had dedicated an entire page to it. [Forehead slap.]

This is what I think was visible on the paper Melinda was holding up as Hilary.

Dearest Hilary,

This may come as a complete and utter shock to you. It is not easy for [us?] to not tell you, so...for lack of any suitable alternative, here is the bitter truth.

I do not love you any more. I'm not sure I ever loved you as much as you loved yourself in...say...The Rivals and that other horrid play you were in as a g...

"Dearest Hilary" resembles, but does not match, the "Hilary, dear..." code phrase the Singers use ("Magic" episode). Was the letter originally meant to be coded? The second sentence has a double negative in it. And the "say" seems extraneous, interjected much like a cough in their secret code.

Should another reunion occur, this might be a topic deserving a good question.

As to not looking as good in its first run. Actually, the original broadcasts, at the source, looked better than you remember.

How do I know this? Therein lies a tale.

I was getting fed up with the crummy image supplied by the cable company. I wanted good copies of this incredible show. Buried away on a small cable channel without a lot of sex, guns, gravel-spitting car chases, or explosions, I knew it would never achieve enough mass appeal to be issued on LaserDisc.

My enlisted pay was nothing to brag about, but I decided to make an investment. I purchased a DirecTV antenna, a DirecTV receiver, and...this was key...a digital VHS recorder built to work with the DirecTV receiver.

The American broadcasting standard at the time was NTSC, which delivered roughly 525 lines of information. About 480 lines were actual picture lines; the remaining lines were metadata. VHS could only record 240 lines of image data; that's why I always called it "VHS mud." Super VHS improved quite a bit to reach 420 lines. Better, but still not recording at the resolution in the broadcast. And I could compare a S-VHS image to a LaserDisc image (approximately the same resolution) and see analog videotape had other visual problems.

The DirecTV dish and receiver would provide me a good image, but then the image would be degraded when I recorded it to VHS or S-VHS.

However, this special D-VHS deck would take the digital DirecTV signal and write it to the D-VHS video tape. Not modify it, translate into some special D-VHS format, or any other method which would probably degrade the content as conversions do. The actual, digital data, unaltered, as received from the satellite. Upon playback, the DirecTV receiver would process it as it would any live signal it received. In other words, always as good as the original broadcast you received. "That you received" is the key phrase.

I remember showing a screen grab of identical frames from a VHS or S-VHS copy and a D-VHS copy in the old IRC chat group for comparison. It was a WOW moment.

There was just one problem. I was living in an apartment complex at the time and the place where I could put the dish wasn't stable. And even if it wasn't windy, atmospheric disturbances could interfere with the signal.

As a result, there were dropouts. When you have a problem with an analog signal, it simply deteriorates a little. With a digital dropout, you lose complete frames. So the best I could hope for would be to play back the signal "that I received" with the dropped frames. This strongly discouraged me.

But sometime in the early to mid-2000s, I began capturing the the episodes to my computer. Afterwards I went through all the episodes studiously annotating where clean-up work, if it could be done, was needed. Nearly every episode had multiple problems. And not just digital problems; one episode had the stereo tracks reversed. At least, one that I noticed. The problem may have affected other episodes.

Further, by the time I purchased the DirecTV equipment, Remember WENN had completed its run and we were in what would be the last series of repeats. And half the episodes had already aired.

Many hours had been spent getting this far and I just didn't have the time to go further. Eventually, a more knowledgeable and skilled colleague was able to make some use of the files although there were problems with the computer files to overcome.

I've only spoken of this recently because I felt ashamed that I had gone so far but failed to make it to the finish line. I'd hoped to have a trove to share, but I had a collection of compromised curios. However, now that AMC has finally made the episodes available in about the same quality, but without the dropouts, I feel a self-imposed burden has been removed.

But I hear you say, "But Rodney, where's this evidence that AMC was broadcasting near this quality level back in the 1990s?"

Fair question.

On 30 April 1998, I took a screen grab (TIFF format to prevent loss of quality) from either a VHS or S-VHS copy of "Happy Homecomings." It looks about as ragged as you would expect. By the time the signal was rebroadcast by your local cable channel, it had already been degraded by all the signal conversions along the way. Not that an NTSC signal was that great to begin with (it's been unaffectionately referred to as "Never The Same Color twice"). Then I recorded the signal on a low-resolution medium. And we end up with the image we think of when we remember the original broadcasts.

In 1999, I had my D-VHS equipment for the rebroadcast of "Happy Homecomings." This time, the signal I received had been digital all the way, so there was no loss of quality. This was the original signal being sent out in 1999. From the 1999 digital recording, I located the same frame I had grabbed from the 1998 analog recording.

In the image on the right, you can see my 1998 screen grab (click on it for the full-size version). Underneath that is a grab from the 1999 digital broadcast. And below that is my mediocre pass (I could have been more subtle) at how further processing could make it "pop" for modern audiences at the risk of losing the cozy sepia look. Even with my overcooked example, you can see the improvement in skin tones.

Someone talented could take the digital signal from 1999 or from 2022 and shine it up into a gem.

Assuming AMC has maintained proper storage for the original negatives, they could scan them, reapply the pseudo-Technicolor effect, regenerate the on-screen graphics, and we'd have fantastic-looking images. However, I cannot fault AMC for not doing this. I see no way they'd make back the cost necessary to do the work. That we're finally seeing the old 1990s masters, with possibly some processing, is more than we ever expected.

Nonetheless, as I stated at the beginning of this digression started, this is the highest clarity almost anyone has seen it. And if AMC sees enough viewings, perhaps it can lead to something else.


One day before posting this Walk Through, I found the comparison images I showed the IRC chat group back in 1998. For more detailed comparisons, click on the image on the left for still image comparison and click on the image on the right for a short comparison by movie.

Mary mentioned the two cast members who have passed since WENN left the air: George "Tom Eldridge" Hall and Margaret "Gertrude Reece" Hall. Then Rupert, in his usual informative and entertaining way, shared remembrances of them. Kevin started to say, "George Hall had one of the...", but got cut off and didn't return to his comment. I'm curious what he would have said. Rupert went on to speak of Bob Dorian, AMC's presenter who had guested four times on the series, who passed in 2019.

⟪⟪ 30:33 ⟫⟫

WENN Writing, Work Conditions

JBL revealed that, like the fans, the cast is just as likely to use some of Rupert's marvelous catchphrases written for the WENN characters. The mention of George's passing reminded him of Tom Edridge's "understood completely"; John said he and Kevin (who burst out laughing, anticipating what John was going to say), often use the phrase to conclude conversations.

JBL continued, "Rupert, I know I speak for all of us. The words were extraordinary. The best words I've ever spoken out loud to somebody else and got paid to do it."

Mary spoke of Rupert's words being the right words for the characters. The rare occurrence of outside writing proved it as "the lines never...they were just lines. And then when you rewrote them...they came from our characters."

Kevin continued the praise. "It was perhaps the only time in my career that someone actually wrote for was so easy to was so easy to because Rupert wrote exactly for your character and he understood your cadences and the way you approached things." Mary, Amanda, and John shook their heads vigorously in agreement.

Kevin said this has happened only one other time and that was when the writer was again Rupert who wrote another character for him in a webisode meant as a pilot called "Art in Heaven." Christopher Murney was also featured in this short and laughed when Kevin said its name.


You can read a little bit about this production in the March 2009 edition of The WENN Gazette.

The discussion then turned to the work. John queried the cast, "Hey, guys, do you remember the days of appearing at 6 AM and going until 2, 3, 4(!) AM in doing 30 pages or more in literally 2½ days?"

The whole cast started responding at the same time. They clearly remembered. Carolee managed to break through with the caveat that "the women had to be there 2 or 3 hours earlier than that" while Amanda mimed being made up and having hair styled in the makeup chair.

John then asked if they remembered a specific incident. "Do you remember the flood?"

"I'm not that old," deadpanned Melinda. rimshot

"The flood on all the white marble...It didn't really matter because we were there to do wonderful stuff."

Chris pointed out it was all one-camera set-ups.

John: "Remember Juan Campanella sleeping in his chair?" The cast breaks up, particularly Chris. "There was only 5 pages left to do and he..", John mimicked Juan's head falling to the side, asleep.


A picture of Juan Campanella from the Youngs' visit to the set.

Tom brings up another memory, "Do you remember [Patti] Lupone freaking out with producers at about 3 in the morning?" 1

"Yes!", Amanda exclaimed.

"She had had enough of it," Tom continued, "and she went into them. And there were words coming out of her that I have never heard in my life."

⟪⟪ 35:35 ⟫⟫

Medical Break

At this point in the program, it turned to a regular feature with Dr. Jon LaPook where the latest COVID-19 information is discussed. This segment focused on Long COVID which is a phrase referring to symptoms which linger long after recovery begins. The information discussed in this segment will always be dated to February 2022. So I'm going to link to the WebMD page which will presumably be a living document, updated over time.

⟪⟪ 44:04 ⟫⟫

Donations Begin

The hosts began bringing back the guests with Rupert and then Tom, asking Tom to read the 1st donation message, Donation A.

For Margaret [Hall], for Tom [Hall], much love to the entire cast and crew.
Sell those Barley Futures.
— WENNlist crew.
Thank you Seth and James for this event.
— Erin from Florida.

Erin is EM, a well-known WENNer. I should add that Tom [Beckett] reacted to both names: "dear Margaret"; "awww".

Then the hosts said they wanted to bring in JBL to read the next donation. From that, I reasoned correctly that Donation B was my donation. Unfortunately, JBL seemed to be having difficulties finding the information. I've watched one other Stars in the House streamcast, with a The Mystery of Edwin Drood reunion. This seems to be a typical difficulty.

I should explain that in addition to a chat available to the YouTube viewers, there was also a private chat available to the participants of the streamcast and support personnel. Jason Crispin on their support team was taking the information about the donations as they came in and posting it to the private chat to make it availble to the participants.

Unfortunately, this cast hasn't been able to spend much time together since the show. Rupert mentioned earlier in the stream that he hadn't seen Melinda in 25 years. During the medical segment, the cast were "backstage" waiting to be brought back into the chat. So it was an opportune time for the cast to chat up a storm to make up for lost time. (I would love to read that chat transcript, of course.)

Because of this, it was difficult to find the information Jason had posted about the donations in the midst of all the chat messages. JBL abdicated and the hosts asked Rupert to give it a go. Unfortunately, Rupert had the same difficulty. As Tom was the only other person in the streamcast, and had demonstrated his ability to locate the donation information, he was asked to give it a go. "They're idiots. I'll do it."

To Rupert, thank you for the skilled wordcraft that rewarded close attention.
To the cast and guests, thank you for inhabiting your characters so fully.
I'd like to thank Rupert and all the cast for their generosity with the fans.
To JBL, for the few weeks it was on the air, Hometown was my favorite television series.
"I'm on a sugar rush you wouldn't believe."
— Rodney from Maryland.

I'm not sure if the quote marks ended up in the text Tom saw (or even a proper spelling of my name). I realized afterward that I should have prefaced it with "Read the following quote in a typical deadpan JBL style." Tom might have thought those were my words. (Alas, high blood sugar problems preclude attempts at high caloric rushes.)

JBL gave a short, astonished gasp when he heard Hometown. (He was probably thinking, "Oh, that old thing.") The quote was from his character on Hometown.

Hometown was a 1985 dramedy on the CBS network. It was clearly inspired by the feature film, The Big Chill (one of my favorite movies), it features seven old friends who grew up together but 15 years on, they haven't been spending as much time together. As a funeral reunites old friends in The Big Chill, so a wedding brings the cast members together in the first episode. Mind you, the hometown is a small college town and most of the seven characters live there, so they have not been completely out of touch.

Ben Abbott was played by Frank Luz (The Doctors; Free Spirit). Ben owns and runs Abbott Books.

Mary Newell was played by Jane Kaczmarek (The Paper Chase, TV; Malcolm in the Middle). She's been a stay-at-home mom raising the two girls she's had with Ben. She may return to dancing.

Being children of the sixties and growing into responsible adults in the eighties, they finally decide to tie the knot. This is the wedding that launches the series.

Barbara Donnelly was played by Margaret Whitton (The Doctors; The Secret of My Success). Barbara has been living in high society but is divorcing her husband, which will leave her with a large settlement.

Christopher Springer was played by Andrew Rubin (Police Academy; From the Earth to the Moon). Christopher has also been living it up as a rock star. By the end of the series, he has returned to live in their hometown.

Joey Nathan was played by Daniel Stern (Home Alone; The Wonder Years, narrator; C.H.U.D.). Joey is the least materially successful of the group. He's a fry cook and single parent raising his young son.

Jane Parnell was played by Christine Estabrook (The Crew; American Horror Story). Jane teaches at the local college, presumably their alma mater, but also mixes with the upper crust in her role as advisor to the President.

Jane's not the only one of the group teaching at the college.

Peter Kincaid is played by John Bedford-Lloyd, as he was then billed (The Abyss; The Bourne Supremacy; C.H.U.D.). Peter is a man with a boyish sense of glee who also teaches at the college.

John played Peter as a man of intellect, but his emotions were always heightened. If he was up, he was zestfully, excitedly up. If he was down, he was near catatonic. Peter was a little naive with his human relations, but always good-hearted. It was a performance that was right on the edge of too much, but he never went over the top. I suspect his character was named after "The Peter Pan Syndrome."

In one of the stand-out episodes, Peter had just completed a play he's been working on for years. Peter's ambition was to have his play on Broadway. A kooky ambition for a grown man, to be sure, but I just watch the shows.

It looks as if his play will get made when the backers...back out. Peter isolates himself in his apartment. Hearing of the news, Ben rushes to his apartment building (which oddly has a sign outside, "Peter's Playpen"; I don't know if he cleared it with the apartment managers). He hears sounds of Peter in distress coming from inside the apartment (Peter was sloppily belching). Ben breaks in the door. Peter is on his couch watching television and looking drained. He says, in a deadpan manner, "You know you're going to have to pay for that door."

"Barbara was worried you might do something drastic."

"I did. I just ate an entire package of Oreos. The family size. I'm on a sugar rush now you wouldn't believe."

Hear it yourself. Particularly listen out for Peter's sounds of distress.

His delivery of a line declaring his energized state contrasted with his dead, emotionless voice was perfectly hilarious to me. As it turns out in this stream, JBL delivers humorous statements completely deadpan in real life as well.

I thought John might recall the line and add an anecdote or something. ("Second best ensemble I worked with after you guys." Or, "I was glad to ditch those bozos. Party time!")

Alas, the nation was not enthralled with Hometown as I was and it was soon off the air.

I saw JBL in a few other programs over the next few years, but nothing came close to his Peter Kincaid performance. (Don't get me started on Seaquest DSV.)

The number one reason I tuned in to watch Remember WENN was because JBL was in it. Secondly was because of my interest in old-time radio. And also because I had begun listening to music of the era.

Victor Comstock was not Peter Kincaid. He was more mature and self-assured. And more reserved, drastically so from Peter Kincaid.

But by the second episode, "Klondike 9366," Victor was displaying some of that JBL energy: "Oh, God, I love radio! You can bring something to life like a bolt of lightning. It's like being God...Let's do it tonight!" Alas, after he was bombed in the Blitz, he was never quite as charismatic again.

Coincidentally enough, a YouTube channel called Analog TV Obscurity posted an episode of Hometown recently, in early January: Mary's Yen

Melinda is brought back into the chat to read Donation C's message.

Constantly grateful for the positivity you constantly put out into the universe.
— Mark from Massachusetts

Next, Carolee rejoined the channel and was asked to read the message accompanying Donation D.

Hi, Stars in the House.
This donation is thanks in for reuniting a cast we love and adore* after 30 years.
A big, "Hi! Hi!" to my old friends from the WENN chats and bulletin boards in the mid-nineties.
With thanks
— Emily from Chicago.

* Carolee interjected, "So do we" at this point.

Donation E's message was read by the latest returnee, Amanda.

I was obsessed with this show when it was on the air when I was in middle school*.
Over 20 years later, it remains my favorite show.
I cannot thank you enough for this reunion. Truly.
— Katherine from Ohio

* Carolee interjected, "How very young of you." I think Melinda was also right at the edge of saying this, one of her character's classic lines, at this point. They do quote WENN as we do.

Kevin, then Mary, and finally Chris are returned to the chat.

⟪⟪ 48:54 ⟫⟫

"It Was the Words", Revolving Cast

Another video tribute is shown. This one is from John Kander. The 2006 comic mystery musical, Curtains, had book by Rupert and lyrics by Fred Ebb. John Kander wrote the music and, along with Rupert, additional lyrics. He'll be 95 on 18 March 2022.

Amanda and host Seth next reminisced about meeting at a reading for "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

This was followed by a clip of Betty and Hilary from "On the Air" featuring more classic Rupert dialog. "I was buried in thought." "Yes, and I'm sure it was a shallow grave."

Rupert said he loved His Girl Friday and farces of the era and feels he can write that style very naturally. Amanda said she was familiar with those films because of her parents and her grandfather was a vaudevillian. (I would say, as opposed to a vaudevillain, who would be someone appearing in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.) Amanda's dad was also a big fan of the old radio shows.

Rupert then enthused about how well the cast stepped into their roles as characters of a different time.

John leads the cast in returning the credit to Rupert. "Rupert, we're beating a dead horse here, but it was the words. It really was. You couldn't say those words without talking a certain way, walking a certain way. And, it was the words." The cast vigorously agreed.

Kevin steps up next to praise...John. "I would just like to thank John Lloyd for getting a job on network television so that I actually..." Much ribbing over JBL's departure for the sitcom, Aliens in the Family followed.

John's departure paved the way for his friend, Kevin, to step in as Scott Sherwood, the new station manager.

James prompted for clarification. Although many of the fans know some of the behind-the-scenes reasons for disappearing and reappearing characters, the casual viewer will not.

John was approached for the network comedy which would mean a nice paycheck when his coffers were low. And Rupert had just explained that the AMC contract was for only the first four episodes of Remember WENN. John wanted to afford his dry-cleaning.

So John took the offer, "despite Murney making a lot of fun of me, which did hurt, still stings a little bit." John delivered this deadpan, as Peter Kincaid might, but broke out into a big grin just at the end. Despite the deadpan, Kevin was low-laughing through most of it. And Rupert beat everyone to burst out laughing at the point where John reached "still". Chris was listening with a big smile but waited to the end to laugh out loud.


I'm interested in the whole deadpan/comedy dynamic and how different people react. Sometimes I'll say something absurd, but deadpan, respecting the intelligence of those listening to understand the joke from the absurd content. But some people don't seem to have the facility to parse the joke. And there are times I might say something absurd but make it obvious by the manner in which I say it. And there are still those who can't pick up the joke. It could be different brain skills. I know this guy who's very bright, but he can't read a map. But I think a lot of people expose themselves to a limited range of humor. I'm very influenced by Monty Python's Flying Circus and the old National Lampoon Magazine.

With Aliens in the Family dead in a short amount of time, John said he asked Howard Meltzer, "Am I really, really, really dead?" Apparently not and soon Victor was back.

Amanda cheerfully added, "Then I got to have two boyfriends!"

JBL was not the only cast member who departed, had a replacement character created, and then later returned.

Three episodes into season two, Eugenia (Mary Stout) Bremer, the organist, was shuffled off to an all-night slot, not to be seen again until season three. Her day-time organist duties were taken up by Maple (future Drama Desk Award winner Carolee Carmello) LaMarsh.

Mary said that she "had left the show to do Jane Eyre in Toronto and after we obviously opened to, I thought, really good reviews in Toronto, we didn't move forward. And I called Rupert and Rupert said to me, from the bottom of my heart, he said, 'I see you walking in the door'."

Mary continued, movingly, "And it meant the world to me, so much, that I was able to come back. And he wrote me right back into the show."


Sweet Mary. It was with her consent that Rupert sent me the full-length version of Mary's performance of "Remember When" as Samantha from "Rendezvous in Rabat" to include here, on my Remember WENN fan site.

And Jane Eyre's situation improved, too. After under two months in Toronto from 22 November 1996 (previews) to 3 December 1996 (opening) to the closing in January 1997, director John Caird, Maria Schaffel as Jane Eyre, and Mary Stout as Mrs. Fairfax returned in a new production on Broadway in late 2000 for a 6-month run of 209 performances.

Rupert explained Eugenia's return, "It was always planned that way."

Rupert went to explain that John's departure had set a precedent for preparing for a character's possible return.

The first four episodes of Remember WENN had a "romance that might be brewing between Betty and Victor" (which I loved) but, with John off to film Aliens in the Family, Victor was never around. During a discussion about this problem with producer Howard Meltzer, Howard said they could afford to have John in for one day. And on that day, sticking to minimal sets and cast, they could film segments for different episodes. By this method, they managed to keep Victor physically present in several more episodes, even though the appearances were not much more than cameos.

Speaking directly to John, Rupert explained, "So I killed you, knowing that I could take you back the moment [you were available]...and we spent a lot of time in the second season reminding the viewers that no one had ever pronounced on your body."

"Same thing with Mary," Rupert continued, now addressing Mary. "If you remember, Mary, what I did is, I gave you a radio show on the station that started at midnight, called 'The Agitato Alert.' And the impression was that you were always at the station, but you were just on the air from midnight to 6 AM. Come season three, the very first moment of season three, it starts at midnight, and you walk in the door as if you had never been gone."

Mary added, "And Carolee had done my organ duties." To which Carolee's body English stated, "Right, you betcha [wink, wink]." And Melinda burst out laughing and then held the silence finger up to her lips. ["Don't give away acting secrets; let them think you play the organ."] Rupert observed all, "I saw that!"

⟪⟪ 59:30 ⟫⟫

Character Romances and Flirtations

With Rupert revealing secrets of his plot-smithing in the handling of characters, John seemed to ponder the arc of Victor's romantic triangle with Betty and Scott. "Did Scott Sherwood ever kiss Betty?" The viewing fans certainly expected a quick answer since any WENN fan would know.

And our Betty, Amanda, after briefly shaking her head, speaks right up, "No."

She was a split second ahead of Kevin nodding his head and saying "Yeah" in an "of course" manner. And then Amanda's response registered and it was mayhem. Kevin clutched his left chest, "Amanda, I'm heartbroken!" But multiple speakers seemed to cancel out each other. Amanda apologized, "I don't remember" then she said 2 or 3 sentences that were unhearable. Kevin said something about something "on his wheel for a long time."

It's quickly established that Scott gave Betty an aggressive, what-the-hell smooch at the end of "Who's Scott Sherwood."

This prompts Mary to ask about the status of her and Tom's characters. "Are Mr. Foley and [Eugenia] married?" This is barely heard in the midst of others speaking, but Amanda hears it and gives it a signal boost (to change the subject, hmmm?). "Ah, yeah. Mr. Foley and Eugenia, are they married?" 2


When last we left Remember WENN, Eugenia had deciphered a semaphore message Mr. Foley had signaled to Eugenia. "Mr. Foley, do you think we should consider becoming engaged?...Just say 'Yes', or 'No'."

At this point, Tom took over. He explained that after going back and forth, they had decided that one of the motifs of the series would be that Mr. Foley is never heard. When Mr. Foley began falling in love with Eugenia, he had something to communicate to her. But he couldn't be heard speaking. Hence, the semaphore flags. Tom stated that the message he learned to do and send to Eugenia was a marriage proposal, "Will you marry me?". [Tom was furiously moving his arms, demonstrating semaphore signaling completely oblivious that the framing of his window in the stream precluded the audience from seeing him waving his arms.]

Rupert was smiling and nodding his head in agreement. So I'm going to, barring information to the contrary, assume that Mr. Foley and Euguenia did tie the knot sometime after season four.


There are problems with the details, however. In responding to the semaphore message, it is Eugenia, instead, who pops the question. So it doesn't make sense that the semaphore message was a distinct proposal of marriage.

Based a little on my analysis of the semaphore message in my Walk Through, but based a lot on a post by Jenn ( on 18 September 1988 to, Tom had stated to her at the time that the message was, "Birds do it. Bees do it. Eugenia, let's do it."

I don't think this was a "Why don't we do it in the road?" moment 25 years ahead of Paul McCartney (Beatles aka White Album). Rather it was a flashback to 12 years prior when "Let's Do It," written by Cole Porter, premiered.

At this point, John voiced the question that was on all of our minds.

"Rupert, do you ever sleep?"

Rupert shook his head, "No."

Tom broke in with something like "Noddle-schlap!" Tom continued, "that's why Patti was mad!", referring to the contretemps between Patti Lupone and the producers Tom had mentioned earlier. 1

But we got no further details of Patti's dust-up because Chris then broke in. Which is good, since we had heard the least from Chris and Melinda at this point.

Chris' question was about changes to the characters. "Rupert, you were toying with all of us at some point." Chris used Mackie as an example. Mackie was "wonderful" with "a nice heart" and then Chris finds that Mackie "was a getaway driver at a bank heist. You just pulled the rug out from under him. What happened?"

Rupert explained it just made "a good episode with you and Phil Bosco...'A Star in Stripes Forever'" (demonstrating his episode title retention). Kevin nodded, agreeing, "That was a good episode."

Rupert next gave an insight into the writing of "If I Die Before I Sleep" where the WENN voice actors try to set a record staying awake and on air. "I wrote that entire episode in 72 hours, without sleep. I'm not exaggerating."

John asked Rupert if he would have his associate, Teressa, make sure that the cast had each other's e-mails; he only had Kevin's and Chris'. He was conscientious and requested everyone's consent, "Is everybody cool with that?" All but Carolee gave undeniable confirmation; she just smiled (we're going to take that as a "yes"). Melinda pointed out that re-established lines of communication would allow planning for them to visit her in France.

This was in some way mirrored by the fans. The YouTube chat for this stream was filled with fans remembering each other from the shrouded mists of the past (sorry, waxing poetic for a moment) where they spent time together in social media locations such as the newsgroup on Usenet, #wenn and #theButtery channels on IRC, the WENNList electronic mailing list hosted on Yahoo, and possibly other locations. There were hopes of perhaps more online fan gatherings. People's daily time is constrained and, like most reunions, pledges to maintain contact succeed less than it fails. Time will tell for the Remember WENN cast and its fans.

James then played a clip demonstrating Tom's acting ability when unconstrained by dialog. It was from the pilot episode, "On the Air," where, during a broadcast of Valiant Journey, Mr. Foley is asked to improvise the sound of a river.

The next clip featured Carolee's Maple flirting with Herman Hermits' Peter Noone in the "Christmas in the Airwaves" episode.

Throughout the stream, John's face had registered amazement at the guests on the show that he had not known were on the show. Molly Ringwald. Phil Bosco. And he recognized the entertainer in the clip. "Peter Noone?", he asked, astonished. Once confirmed, "Jesus Christ."

Continuing the theme of Maple's flirtiness, Maple's use of a cultured voice affectation to attract a Congressman (Boyd Gaines) in "A Girl Like Maple" was discussed next.


After Maple interviews Bob Farraday with her current affairs voice, she talks with him normally. And he mistakes her voice for the affected voice. "Yes, that's exactly the kind of person I'm hoping to reach. Lower class, maybe never finished high school, that gum-chewing waitress at the greasy spoon." Farraday asks Maple to dinner and they begin dating. But trying to keep knowledge of her real accent from the Congressman causes chaos at the station. That, pride, and a sense of honesty compel Maple to come clean.

Turns out Bob is from Brooklyn. Whatever his original accent, he's learned to articulate well to get ahead in life. Maple estimated 27 things she needed to tell him which no doubt included her fan dancing career and dalliance with Errol Flynn. In 1940 America, that would almost certainly end a political career. Bob chooses his career over Maple...publicly. He still wants to see her on the sly.

Maple says, "No" to the Congressman's proposition.

Carolee's principal memory is that Bob fessed up about his origins, but Rupert rightly remembers how he hurt Maple with his rejection. "What I remember is that he was a real heel."

I mainly remember Boyd Gaines from One Day at a Time and Remember WENN, of course. Off the top of his head, Seth throws in that Gaines is a Tony Award winner. JBL throws in off the top of his head, that Gaines has won 3 Tonys. What would have been more impressive was if someone recalled that Gaines has won 4 Tonys.

⟪⟪ 1:06:20 ⟫⟫

Another Tribute; Chris Keeps It in the Family

Serendipitously, the next tribute video is from Tony Award winner Debra Monk, who, like John Kander, is connected to Rupert's Curtains where she played Carmen Bernstein.

Seth asked a question that I've often wondered. Was Chris a trained Shakespearean actor?


Betty first learned of Mackie's Shakespearean skills off air in "On the Air." Later in the episode, during a quick improv, Mackie's memorization of Shakespeare sonnets came in handy during a broadcast of Valiant Journey.

He later quotes Shakespeare in "A Star in Stripes Forever." He would have performed Shakespeare in "And If I Die Before I Sleep," but he was away playing Polonius in a regional tour of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the time.

This was yet another time when Rupert kept a character present when the actor was away temporarily on another job. In addition to JBL/Victor, Mary/Eugenia, and Chris/Mackie, Hugh O'Gorman's Jeffery Singer was given a plot explanation for his missing character during much of season three.

Chris had studied Shakespeare in school. Later, he went to Germany and performed in the Stuttgart Shakespeare Festival.

And being a proud dad, Chris now plugged a show (now past) featuring his daughter, Julia Murney. Among her credits, as of this writing, are eight appearances on Stars in the House. Hence a comment made by Seth that he primarily knew Christopher Murney as Julia's dad.

A clip of Mackie reciting a Shakespeare sonnet from Valiant Journey was shown.

Seth next asked Chris about Mack and Mabel, a 1974 Broadway musical where Chris played Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. "Did you have an actual singing solo?"

Chris recalled that, while no "solo," he did have a singing line and attempts to sing it from recall: "I'm gonna buy myself a Pierce-Arrow. And sing to all the dames in the streets."

The hosts, with the line from "Big Time" from the Original Broadway Recording already cued up, played it: "I'm gonna buy myself a Pierce-Arrow. And wave to all my fans in the streets."

Very close! It just left me with the question, "What is Pierce-Arrow?"

Through 1938, Pierce-Arrow, of Buffalo, New York, was a manufacturer of a wide range of vehicles. But the company was best known for its expensive luxury cars.

JBL joined in the conversation with praise for Chris' son, Patrick Murney, whom JBL had just worked with. "He was great, Chris. He was really great." Since Chris has three children, we might as well mention the third, producer Caitlin Murney.

⟪⟪ 1:10:36 ⟫⟫

More Donations

The hosts asked Kevin to search the private chat for Donation G. At this point, we got our only glimpse into the private chat contents, beyond the Donation messages. "Melinda Mullins looks fabulous," Kevin read from the private chat. Yes, she did. She looked and sounded completely relaxed as if she's cozied up on the sofa in front of a fire with a Cup o' Comfort.

My brother and I are 10 years apart.
Remember WENN was the only show we agreed on.
We built the sets out of Legos and still reference the "Satanic Santa" every Christmas.
Thank you for this reunion.
— Betty from Michigan.

The host next asked Melinda to read the dedication for Donation H. As she is in France, they make a point to say it's not Donation aitch, but Donation ahsh. I suspect the donation message begins "thank you" but the lead-in conversation inspired Melinda to change it.

Merci, Rupert Holmes and Remember WENN cast.
Being from Pittsburgh, I love that the show was set in the Burgh.
Thank you
— Barb

Carolee had been a bit quiet during the stream and, watching her while Melinda read the donation message, I think I can see why. Mere moments earlier, Seth had mentioned that the private chat was still quite busy, even though the chatters were also live on the stream. While Melinda read, Carolee put on a pair of eyeglasses and focused on the computer screen. Reading along with Melinda or engaging in the private chat? Hmmm.

Seth proclaims that Melinda had read Donation E, instead of H. But E was Katherine from Ohio. So it turns out that it was really Donation I. So next, Chris reads the real Donation H. Are you lost yet?

Thank you so much for hosting Rupert and these fabulous actors.
I boycotted a certain cable channel when they canceled the show and I don't feel like I missed much anyway as they moved away from classic movies without commericals and never looked back.
My mom and I still love WENN all these years later.
— Jennifer from Chicago

The stream participants all loved this, both the content and Chris' natural reading. It takes a man of a thousand voices to play a man of a thousand voices. The sentiment expressed by Jennifer is felt by many of the fans, including myself. I'm sure several of the series associated with AMC since WENN's cancellation are well-done pieces of entertainment. But I've got, let's just say a lot, a lot of Blu-ray discs still in shrink wrap that I want to make time for. I have no need to keep up with the next big thing, particularly if it is on AMC. (But AMC is finally making WENN available, so that sets up a bit of a quandary.)

⟪⟪ 1:13:12 ⟫⟫

Tales of AMC; Non-WENN Clips

Seth mentioned to Kevin about the low pay on Remember WENN which triggers an anecdote from Kevin.

AMC ran old pre-1960 movies, so no mechanism had ever been set up to pay residuals. When WENN first began airing repeats of episodes, AMC had to scramble to set up residual payments from money that they probably hadn't budgeted for. "It almost booted the pooch," Kevin concluded.


Way back in the day, Kevin had paid a couple of brief visits to our IRC channel. I recall he asked if anyone had heard of overseas broadcasts in case there had been and the residual remuneration had slipped AMC's mind.

Rupert brought up another aspect of how AMC was unfamiliar with standard practices of producing a television series. "The first two seasons, my credit is Developed By. Finally, the Writer's Guild called them and said, 'What's Developed By? We don't know that term'...So I don't get a Created By credit until the third season."

During Rupert's explanation, Melinda had become a little restless, rubbing her hair, tugging at her scarf, squirming, and giving a tell-tale yawn. I had noticed one or two carefully disguised yawns earlier.

I believe John noticed this so he spoke next, addressing Melinda, I think, to help wake her up so she didn't fall asleep in front of the camera. I pointed this out in the YouTube viewer chat at the time. "Hey, Melinda."


"How's France?"

Kevin joked, "Oh, John, we're not talking about Melinda's personal life."

"Oh. Very good, thank you. It's dark. I'm not sure."

Chris strongly exclaimed, "It's late, John, it's late."

Melinda concured, "It's very late." By now I think they were catching on to John's purpose and remembering that it's after 3 AM in the morning where Melinda is.

"We can do a break-out room for you two, if you want," Kevin suggests. Maybe they're not all catching on. I don't think Melinda really did, either, but then she could barely keep her eyes open. If they all had softly said, "Feathers," at this point, she'd been out like a light.


There's a YouTube streaming program I regularly watch which goes from about 4:30 Eastern to just before 11:00 PM. But one of the many people on this program lives in England. One night, while others were talking, his head sank lower and lower, then slowly slid to his right, sliding out of view. They had to phone him to wake him up.

At this point, Seth returned to his question about low pay. "Because there wasn't a lot of money in Remember WENN, sadly, apparently Kevin, you were still scrounging even when you do a web series."

The stream immediately cut to a video where a technician is removing a microphone from Kevin O'Rourke, who's appears to have just finished an interview or performance. Cautiously, Kevin enquires of the technician, "Am I correct that there's no financial remuneration?" She just looks back, with little change in her expression...just a touch of you're-an-idiot. "Oh," Kevin utters, defeatedly.

The clip is from a 6-episode web series named The Mentors. The short episodes (5:06 to 8:06, Kevin's episode) feature an older performer advising a younger performer. As the characters call each other by their real names and refer to events in the actors' lives (Lizbeth McKay did provide a singing voice of Anastasia, for example), the actors are playing fictionalized versions of themselves. Kevin's episode differs from the format of the other 5 episodes in that his entry is a solo act where he's recounting, for the camera, tales of his mentor, Jeremy Flinkman. It's a hilarious tale of a "Kevin" who doesn't quite know what line of work he's in and Kevin's delivery is pitch-perfect. His Kevin is a character who relates absurd activities with joy and nonchalance and who only sometimes realizes he should have edited himself. It's written by Richard Dresser, writer of over 20 plays and musicals.

The next clip to be shown was from Carolee's career. It was a clip of an unscripted show. She got to improvise. In fact, so did her mom and dad, her sister, and her brother. They were the Carmello family on Family Feud! When Carolee said, "toothbrush," I said, "It's Maple!"

The stream participants were amazed. Carolee said she was about 27 and related their successes on the show. Kevin ventured a personal question, "Could you tell me, how [does the family] get on now?" James swooped in to save Carolee with Kevin's own idea, "Kevin, save that for the breakout room."

Next up was Mary. She is apparently "in a musical that is playing around the country at all times." That is, there is a musical that at one point has two characters talk about Mary being hit by a hog dog vendor cart. A clip is shown where two guys are on a bare stage, each of them in a chair, some distance apart, and speaking into a mobile phone. They're obviously meant to be in different locations and at this point in the dialog...

"...they do. It's just another cautionary tale about eating shrimp outdoors."

"Oh! Did you hear that Mary Stout got hit by a hot dog cart?"

"What?! Oh my god. Is she okay?"

"Well, I think so, yeah."

"Drag queen stealing shrimp. Mary Stout hit by a hot dog cart. It's all..."

I found this clip of Mary discussing the play. James identifies the play as [title of show]. There is a recording of a performance on YouTube. (The clip shown starts at 5:46.)

This was followed by another tribute clip...but the tribute isn't for Rupert, it's for Mary! Hunter Bell, responsible for the book of [title of show] gives a shout out to Mary.

Mary describes the accident, which happened 6 months after she had back surgery!

Our participants had been visitor free so far, except for Melinda's black and white cat. But during Mary's description of the accident, John Bedford Lloyd, unbeknownst to him, received a silent visitor who, ever so gently, opened the door a crack, but then withdrew.

Mary kidded (I hope) that she may be best known as a mention in a line in a play (I think Remember WENN and Jane Eyre speak to the contrary). Seth stated that she's also known for "the best reaction shots" and showed the trailer for the final episode of WENN, "All's Noisy on the Pittsburgh Front," as evidence.

⟪⟪ 1:22:01 ⟫⟫

Another Donation

Amanda read Donation J, which James had described as "really sweet."

Thank you so much for this reunion.
My question is what would have happened in the fourth...[garbled]
— Jules from [garbled]

Jules is JV, is another well-known WENNer. Presumably, Jules was asking how the fourth season's cliffhangers would have been resolved. But I'm afraid Jules' donation message was trampled on. As earlier, during the kerfuffle about Scott and Betty's kiss, some mic inputs predominate and Amanda's was not one of them. Her reading was muted by the sounds coming from John Bedford Lloyd's mic.

I'm guessing that John could have lost the audio and possibly the video feed, so he may not have known a donation message was being read.

In fact, on the viewer's side, the stream had started losing his signal intermittently. First during the 1:22:20 - 1:22:21 seconds, then the 1:22:22 - 1:22:23 seconds. Once you notice those moments, it's hard not to see it. I had also noticed it briefly freezing from time to time earlier in the stream.

In an attempt to remedy the problem, he started fiddling with the equipment. This included touching the microphone which caused loud, annoying, rustling sounds. If my theory of John not hearing/seeing the stream is correct, he likely made the all-too-human assumption: "If I can't see them, then they can't see me." Or he was just too wrapped up in trying to prevent the drop-outs.

John's two intermittent interruptions had ended and he was coming through loud and clear when, in his frustration, he exclaimed, "Hmmph!" [rustling sounds] "Ohhh, what the f*** happened?"

During his previous drop-outs, a little "people head" icon had shown in his window. Now his feed went completely black, and then dropped out of the stream. JBL may have, intentionally or unintentionally, disconnected during his attempts to fix his feed. However, I noticed that James' right hand appeared to reach to, presumably, the controls at just that moment. Possibly James booted John to prevent the broadcast of further obscenities.

The whole gang broke out in laughter while, after a few moments, John rejoined the stream.

Alluding to a typical episode recap which would begin, "When last we met on Remember WENN," Chris invoked Mackie to intone, "When last we heard from John..."

Carolee asks John if he got hit by a hot dog cart.

John asks, "Where did everybody go?" And then falls out of the stream again.

⟪⟪ 1:23:06 ⟫⟫

Jules', and Everybody's, Burning Question

In the midst of this, James was trying to steer the conversation back to Jules' question. The hosts had no doubt been glancing at the YouTube viewers chat as well as the private chat. And many viewers had been asking after the same information. James steered the question to Rupert, since "you're the only one who can answer that question." Amanda gave James a signal boost, "What would have happened in the fifth season, Rupert?"

Before Rupert addressed the question which had occupied the minds of WENN fandom for over 23 years, Rupert wanted to single out three WENN fans who had produced quality WENN-related material over the years.

"I want to thank Linda Young and James Young who've had the greatest Remember WENN web page since the beginning of the show...and also Erich Linder who's been doing wonderful work on [garbled] clips."

Over the years, I've seen shows finish seasons on cliffhangers to entice viewers to talk up a show over summer reruns and to watch the next season premiere in large numbers. Season one of Babylon 5 famously ended with several characters, but not the station commander, in potentially threatening positions. When season two premiered, the endangered characters were all safe, but the station commander was off the show. This is also a staple of soap operas. Dallas had the infamous "Who Shot J. R.?" cliffhanger. And this was the complete modus operandi of film serials such as Flash Gordon that I grew up watching on television as a kid.

And this is not only done with shows where there's certainty that later episodes will be able to provide resolution. Sometimes it's done to bolster the chances of renewal; "You gotta renew us; we have to resolve the cliffhanger." Possible failures of this tactic may include Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Soap, and the end of the original run, ironically, of Dallas.

Rupert gave a traditional source for this concept: One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales. It is a series of disparate tales, an anthology. The tales are linked, however, by a framing story.

A king, discovering his wife was unfaithful, has her killed. Deciding all women are the same, he "begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonor him." When virgins can no longer be found, Scheherazade, his Vizer's daughter, agrees to marraige. "On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion." And so it goes on night after night: Scheherazade is not "canceled" because the tale must be resolved.

Rupert confessed that he employed that tactic every season of Remember WENN.

"I was nervous on the fourth season and I put three cliffhangers in the last episode of that season because I thought they would never, ever, AMC would never let me put in these three cliffhangers and then not go on with this show. They couldn't do that. And, of course, they did that."

One cliffhanger was Eugenia's marriage proposal to Mr. Foley. This topic was discussed earlier in the stream. 2

Another cliffhanger was introduced by Hilary's confession to Jeff: "I'm married to someone else." Who was the mystery mister? This topic was discussed later in the stream. 3

Rupert said the question most often asked was, "Was Betty going to choose Victor or Scott?"

Rupert's writing has often been praised, and I'm among the chief praisers, for his textbook perfection of the use of foreshadowing. I've seen bad foreshadowing over the years that make me yearn for writers to do it properly as Rupert has. (One example of bad foreshadowing from another show: a stranger approached the shows protagonist, shouting, "I've had this vision about your future." Sigh.)

Rupert had foreshadowed the resolution to the Victor-Betty-Scott romantic triangle in the season four episode, "You've Met Your Match."

Either outright planning to address the question in this stream, or in preparedness in case the question was asked, Rupert had already arranged for Kevin and Carollee to have the lines from the episode which gave the hint to the resolution. Rupert explained this to everyone. "Okay. Is that okay?" Rupert looked at Kevin (as much as you can in one of these streams) to start.

The entire viewing audience, the hosts, and, dare I say, the cast was now on tenterhooks waiting for Kevin and Carolee to speak the words that, because they are now clearly identified as a "strong hint," will reveal the answer to this generation-long question. Kevin opens his mouth, ready to speak as Scott Sherwood, and out comes...

"Amazing! Are you kidding?"

Actually that was James interjecting, not a line read from Kevin. Kevin once again opens his mouth, ready to speak as Scott Sherwood, and out comes...

"Didn't work!"

That was the irrepressible Tom Beckett, not Kevin, suggesting the foreshadowing was too subtle. Kevin only briefly looked a little pained at the second interruption but then laughed because Tom was right. Kevin leaned forward, game for another try...

"There's a lot of hysteria online and someone is 'going to donate one million dollars'." That was the voice of Seth.

The hosts popped up a display of a viewer chat entry from 2 minutes previous.


Argh, should have thought to make a donation with ONLY ONE QUESTION!!! "SCOTT OR VICTOR? ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!!"

In actuality, "lennymachine", aka EC, another well-known WENNer (we're everywhere) already donated as "Emily" from Chicago. If I had known Emily could easily spare ten thousand Benjamins, I would have been much warmer to her over the years.

Rupert then makes it unambiguous that Kevin and Carolee are ready to read these fateful lines.

The crowd is now tremulous with anticipation of the reading and its answer.

P.O.V. Scott at water cooler, over Maple's shoulder.

Scott Sherwood

Mapes, I'm playing out the worst poker hand any player has ever been dealt. My opponent, a man I respect and admire, has returned from the dead to the jubilation of all who missed and mourned him. He's a war hero before we've even gone to war.

P.O.V. Maple eating chocolate chip cookie she just dipped in milk, over Scott's shoulder.

Scott Sherwood

Betty Roberts is now working alongside the man she reveres.

P.O.V. Scott at water cooler over Maple's shoulder.

Scott Sherwood

A man who knows more about most everything under the sun than I do. And to top it off, I like the guy. This is what I'm up against.

P.O.V. Maple over Scott's shoulder.

Maple LaMarsh

Victor doesn't stand a chance, does he?

P.O.V. Scott at water cooler over Maple's shoulder.

Scott Sherwood

That's what makes this country great, Mapes.

"I would have milked the triangle between Scott and Victor and Betty, for at least a season," said Rupert. "There was so much mileage to be gained out of that."

At this moment, Victor returned from the dead. Or rather, John Bedford Lloyd has resolved his technical issues and rejoined the stream. Victor, or rather John, conveniently missed the reveal of the romantic triangle. You don't think that...his character not getting the girl...Kevin signaled him after the reveal...naahhhh.

"But, you know, if you have a wonderful human being like Betty Roberts", Rupert continued, "and she has a great affection for this idealistic, visionary, pioneer in radio. But she's also met this absolute scoundrel who has no principles whatsoever, [but who] is clearly, madly, in love with her. know."

"We know how the movie Casablanca ended. But we really wanted Ingrid Bergman to be with Humphrey Bogart," Rupert opined. "So, you know, Victor probably, and no offense to you JBL, but Victor probably would have gotten involved in Voice of America and some other great causes that would have taken him away from the station."

"And Scott, the wonderful moment at the end of 'Popping the Question,' I've mentioned this to you, Kevin, before. Betty says something to you about 'Guess I'm just that kind of girl.' You've only known her for two and a half episodes and there's this glimmer in your eye."

"And it's the moment when I knew that Scott was in love with Betty," Rupert revealed. "From that moment on, it sorta it."

I understand that most Casablanca viewers do wish that Bogart had got the girl. But I think there's more to life than just...well, let's just say I think there should be balance in one's life.

⟪⟪ 1:27:50 ⟫⟫

Donation Messages Roll In

Meanwhile, the donations had been mounting up. Mary particularly thought Donation M should be read.

James handed out assignments. Tom was given Donation K to read.

Happy birthday, Rupert!
Thanks to you and the entire cast and crew for giving us the wonder that is Remember WENN.
— Kerri From New York

KB's another long-time WENNer. I remember bragging to her about a Remember WENN blue jean crew jacket I had won on eBay.

Amanda read Donation L.

Hi, everyone!
You were such an inspiration to me.
I now write, direct, act, act in, and edit a dramatic podcast that's an homage to the old radio shows.
And the brilliant writing and ensemble magic of Remember WENN was a huge factor to getting it started.
— Valerie from Los Angeles

Mary tackled the Donation M message next.

I carried VHS tapes of WENN to college and duct-taped my roommates into chairs to watch it.
But quickly I became the local dealer for the show which was not available at our school.
[I'm] still introducing friends to the show today.
Thank you so much for doing this reunion.
This is still one of my top favorites of all viewing time.
— Laura

James complimented the viewers and all the fans, WENNers all. "That's amazing donations. You have such wonderful fans."

⟪⟪ 1:29:51 ⟫⟫

Another Tribute by a Chris Who Also Keeps It in the Family

I've avoided describing the content of the tribute videos. They're all heartfelt. Go to the recorded stream and check them out. But I want to mention the style of the next one.

Christopher "CJ" Byrnes is credited in 29 of WENN's 56 episodes, 4 more than JBL. Like Hugh, he wasn't available for the live stream, and recorded his own tribute video. He chose to wear a black shirt with a black background. Except for a silver microphone placed well away from his face, the only bright object was his head. He had powerful lights shining on his face. The kind of bright lights like I have in my bathroom where I look at myself in the mirror and, even though I may have some product in my hair, all my grey is suddenly more noticeable. Lights so bright it could have washed out his face to a pallor unseen since the Bela Lugosi vehicle, Island of Lost Souls. Or perhaps "The Ghost of WENN" would be more apt. Except that it was so bright it bled through the skin, bringing out the red tone of his blood as a backlight, highlighting any irregularity on his face.

Keeping CJ's presentation in mind, and that JBL has demonstrated an inclination towards dry, non-telegraphed humor, here was John's reaction. "He grew up. He got older. Wow. WOW!"

Melinda: "Luckily we didn't."

Mary: "We didn't?"

John: "Not like that!"

So, depending on your taste in funny, this was a hilarious dip into dark humor, or just tasteless. The facial reactions among the participants were mixed. Then John segued into a very sincere reaction to CJ's tribute, "Wow, that was sweet."

And it was a very sweet tribute from CJ. Also, like the Chris before him, this Chris managed to plug his daughter, Darcy Rose Byrnes. And let's not forget spouse and mother, Cathy D'Arcy, who could be seen sitting down the green room at the end of the opening credits of Remember WENN for the first two seasons of the series.

⟪⟪ 1:31:55 ⟫⟫

Donation Messages: No End in Sight; Tribute Video

"The donations keep coming in. It's incredible," James proclaimed. "Melinda, could you read Donation O." "Oh-kay."

Many thanks to all the WENN crew from Indiana, home of Moosehead or Elkhart.
Our family watched WENN from the beginning and loved the intelligent writing and great ensemble work.
Kudos to all
— Lawrence from Indiana

Melinda interjected a "me, too" regarding the intelligent writing. And then she was gone, off to well-earned rest.

Amanda had technical difficulties during CJ's video and dropped out of the stream. Now she had returned and the hosts played a clip of Amanda performing a line with a sustained note from the play Fun House.

The cast applauded, and John asked, "Did you get to sing on the show, ever?" Everyone was thinking, "What? Did John never watch the show?" Rupert's face was priceless.

Rupert stated that "I Gotta Sing" was one of the favorite songs he's ever written. John was off the show during season two when Rupert wrote the song for the episode, "Behind Every Great Woman, where it was marvelously performed by Amanda as Betty.

Another tribute video was played where Scott Ellis says he "is never happier than when I'm in a room working with you," which is something he is apparently prone to say to many persons.

Rupert's response is that Scott Ellis is "my favorite person in the whole f***ing world."

Scott Ellis directed the original production of Curtains in 2007 and a revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 2012. He also directed The Boys From Syracuse in 2002, the last play George Hall acted in. George dropped out of the show on or about the 7th of October. The play closed on 20 October. George passed away the next day due to complications from a stroke.

For a little while, Kevin had been waving frantically to get the attention of the hosts. He finally succeeded and was released to his family dinner.

Carolee is designated to read the message accompanying Donation P.

This is very fun!
Also, I have a question. Who did Hilary marry in the finale and why is it obviously George Costanza?
— Dave from Chicago

Dave is referring to The Astonishing Ballinger who Hilary found simpatico in "Nothing Up My Sleeve" while Jeff was away. Ballinger was played by Jason Alexander, most well known for playing George Costanza on Seinfeld. 3

"The plot would have been that she married Scott to get Scott out of some trouble," Rupert explained. "And it was never a consummated marriage. It would have been a marriage of convenience because he was in some legal scrape. It was never going to be anything serious, but I had to come up with some good cliffhangers."

⟪⟪ 1:37:44 ⟫⟫

Drawing to a Close

Seth mentions how he liked how Rupert had Betty Buckley end on a tonic instead of a fifth in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Seth shows a video where he had Carolee doing the same. Many "Wows!" followed.

Seth said he did this because Betty Buckley "8 times a week, hit this e" while performing in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. A video of this followed.

During the previous 40 minutes, Betty Buckley had been trying to join the stream from Texas. Unfortunately, an ice storm had been interfering. The hosts had been holding Donation F for Betty to read. Since she's not likely to make it, Seth read it.

Dear Seth, James, Dr. LaPook, and Stars in the House staff,
Thank you so much for all you do.
Tonight, I'm donating $36.00
("Three times high"; Rupert Holmes would know that, even though the name is not Jewish.)
in honor of Betty Buckley, AKA, Gloria Redmond.
I love the Remember WENN series so much, especially Betty singing "You Make It Christmas."
Many thanks to Betty and to Rupert Holmes for creating this ah-mawz-ing series.
Hugs and Love from Austin.
— Devon Toby

"May he/she/they live high. May he/she/they live high. Three times high." is an old German and/or Jewish greeting for birthdays, weddings, and other similar events.

A timely clip of Betty Buckley as Gloria Redmond singing "You Make It Christmas" from "Christmas in the Airwaves" was played next.

Tom explained that, although the cast (him on drums as Mr. Foley, for example) were performing along to a pre-recorded track, Betty didn't just lip sync, but sang. "So standing next to her, hearing her voice, was insane."

And then...Betty Buckley managed to connect! Betty wished Rupert a happy birthday.

Then, before Betty could lose her connection, thank yous, birthday wishes, good-byes, and I love yous were said.

Rupert leaned into the camera and wrapped it up. "Best family I ever had."



Only two visitors spotted and already pointed out above: Melinda's black and white cat, and JBL's taking-a-peek mystery visitor.

The Swear Jar

End of stream tally. John: Twice taking the Lord's name in vain. Also, the eff-bomb and fecal matter reference. Rupert: one time with the eff-bomb. All money for the swear jar should be forwarded to the Actor's Fund.

Drinks in the House

[ Carolee drinking ] [ John drinking ] [ Mary drinking ] [ Rupert drinking ] [ Tom drinking ]


Emily from Chicago and Betty from Michigan tied as the most generous donors. Mark from Massachusetts was a very close third place.

Search parties have found no trace of Donation N.

Donation Readings

Some worthy mentions, but really, Chris Murney knocked it out of the park with Jennifer from Chicago's donation message.

Other Items

What's that you say? I should get a job as a web stream proctologist? Hmmm.

That reminds me of the time I...

But I digress.

[ Top ] [ Walk Throughs Main Page ] [ Cafe ]

"Remember WENN," the Remember WENN logo, all publicity and images from the series are ©American Movie Classics. All rights reserved. This is a fan page. No copyright infringment is intended. Any opinions stated are my own and do not reflect the thoughts of the creators or producers.

"Stars in the House," the Stars in the House logo, all publicity and images from the series are ©STARS IN THE HOUSE. All rights reserved. This is a fan page. No copyright infringment is intended. Any opinions stated are my own and do not reflect the thoughts of the creators or producers.